Technologies that draw down carbon represent a massive economic opportunity. The global carbon capture and sequestration market is projected to reach USD 8.05 billion by 2021, representing a compounded annual growth rate of 13.6 percent from 2016 to 2021. According to some estimates carbon capture and utilization (CCU)** alone will be a $1 trillion market by 2030. Others have suggested that capture is a $4 trillion opportunity.
There are numerous co-benefits associated with reducing greenhouse gas emissions in addition to climate mitigation. This includes those that improve health. These health co-benefits could be worth $100 US per tonne of CO2 in high-income countries like the U.S. and Canada.
There is tremendous interest from investors at a level not seen since the emergence of electric vehicles. These investors are providing lucrative incentives to drive Innovation. As reported by Dana Varinsky, silicon valley’s largest accelerator is looking to support startups focusing on negative-emissions technologies. In 2018, Y Combinator put out a request for startups working on high-tech ways to remove CO2 from the air. They plan to build the ‘largest infrastructure project ever undertaken.
There is also the $20 million NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE, a global competition to develop breakthrough technologies that will convert CO₂ emissions from power plants and industrial facilities into valuable products like building materials. The winning team is the one that can convert the most CO₂ into products with the highest value as determined by how much CO₂ they convert and the net value of their products. In 2019 XPrize found that there are more than 250 firms that have raised $2 billion in combined carbon capture and utilization (CCU) and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)* investments.
*Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS): Extracting CO2 out of flue gases at source including waste streams produced by power generation or other industrial processes and partnered with some form of storage of the removed carbon.
**Carbon capture and utilization (CCU): Putting captured carbon to use by transforming it into a wide range of materials or feedstocks (eg concrete, plastic, fish food, toothpaste, water desalination, dry ice, and carbonated beverages).
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